Sidebilder
PDF
[ocr errors]

Come then, and added to thy many crowns
Receive yet one, as radiant as the rest,
Due to thy last and most effectual work,
Thy word fulfilled, the conquest of a world!
He is the happy man, whose life even now
Shows somewhat of that happier life to come;
Who doomed to an obscure but tranquil state
Is pleased with it, and were he free to choose,
Would make his fate his choice; whom peace, the fruit
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith,
Prepare for happiness; bespeak him one
Content indeed to sojourn while he must
Below the skies, but having there his home.
The world o'erlooks him in her bushy search
Of objects more illustrious in her view;
And occupied as earnestly as she,
Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the world.
She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not;
He seeks not hers, for he has proved them vain.
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Pursuing gilded flies, and such he deems
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
Therefore in contemplation is his bliss,
Whose power is such, that whom she lifts from earth
She makes familiar with a heaven unseen,
And shows him glories yet to be revealed.
Not slothful he, though seeming unemployed,
And censured oft as useless. Stillest streams
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird
That flutters least is longest on the wing.
Ask him indeed what trophies he has raised,
Or what achievements of immortal fame
He purposes, and he shall answer—none.
His warfare is within. There unfatigued
His fervent spirit labours. There he fights,
And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself,
And never-withering wreaths, compared with which
The laurels that a Caesar reaps are weeds.
Perhaps the self-approving haughty world,
(That as she sweeps him with her whistling silks
Scarce deigns to notice him, or if she see
Deems him a cypher in the works of God),
Receives advantage from his noiseless hours
Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes
Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring
And plenteous harvest, to the prayer he makes,
When Isaac like, the solitary saint
Walks forth to meditate at eventide,
And think on her, who thinks not for herself.
Forgive him then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, and idler in the best,
If author of no mischief and some good,

He seek his proper happiness by means

That may advance, but cannot hinder thine.

Nor though he tread the secret path of life

Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease,

Account him an encumbrance on the state,

Receiving benefits, and rendering none.

His sphere though humble, if that humble sphere

Shine with his fair example, and though small

His influence, if that influence all be spent

In soothing sorrow and in quenching strife,

In aiding helpless indigence, in works

From which at least a grateful few derive

Some taste of comfort in a world of woe,

Then let the supercilious great confess

He serves his coun try; recompenses well

The state beneath the shadow of whose vine

He sits secure, and in the scale of life

Holds no ignoble, though a slighted place.

The man whose virtues are more felt than seen,

Must drop indeed the hope of public praise;

But he may boast what few that win it can,

That if his country stand not by his skill,

At least his follies have not wrought her fall.

Polite refinement offers him in vain

Her golden tube, through which a sensual world

Draws gross impurity, and likes it well,

The neat conveyance hiding all the offence.

Not that he peevishly rejects a mode

Because that world adopts it: if it bear

The stamp and clear impression of good sense,

And be not costly more than of true worth,

He puts it on, and for decorum sake

Can wear it even as gracefully as she.

She judges of refinement by the eye,

He by the test of conscience, and a heart

Not soon deceived; aware that what is base

No polish can make sterling, and that vice

Though well perfumed and elegantly dressed,

Like an unburied carcase tricked with flowers,

Is but a garnished nuisance, fitter far

For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.

So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,

More golden than that age of fabled gold

Renowned in ancient song; not vexed with care

Or stained with guilt, beneficent, approved

Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.

So glide my life away! and so at last

My share of duties decently fulfilled

May some disease, not tardy to perform

Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke,

Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat

Beneath the turf that I have often trod.

It shall not grieve me, then, that once when called

To dress a sofa with the flowers of verse,

I played awhile, obedient to the fair,

With that light task; but soon to please her more

Whom flowers alone I knew would little please,

Let fall the unfinished wreath, and roved for fruit.

Roved tar and gathered much. Some harsh, 'tis true,

Picked from the thorns and briers of reproof,

But wholesome, well-digested. Grateful some

To palates that can taste immortal truth,

Insipid else, and sure to be despised.

But all is in His hand whose praise I seek.

In vain the poet sings, and the world hears,

If he regard not, though divine the theme.

'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime

And idle tinklmg of a minstrel's lyre

To charm his ear, whose eye is on the heart,

Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain,

Whose approbation—prosper even mine.

[graphic]
[graphic][merged small][ocr errors]

TO THE

REV. WILLIAM CAWTHORNE UNWIN,

RECTOR OF STOCK IN ESSEX, THE TUTOR OF HIS TWO SONS,

THE FOLLOWING POEM,

RECOMMENDING PRIVATE TUITION IN PREFERENCE TO

AN EDUCATION AT SCHOOL,

IS INSCRIBED, BY HIS AFFECTIONATE FRIEND,

WILLIAM COWPER. Olney, Nov. 6, 1784.

It is not from his form in which we trace
Strength joined with beauty, dignity with grace,
That man, the master of this globe, derives
His right of empire over all that lives.
That form indeed, the associate of a mind
Vast in its powers, ethereal in its kind,
That form, the labour of almighty skill,
Framed for the service of a free-born will,
Asserts precedence, and bespeaks control,
But borrows all its grandeur from the soul.
Hers is the state, the splendour and the throne,
An intellectual kingdom, all her own.
For her, the memory fills her ample page
With truths poured down from every distant age,
For her amasses an unbounded store,
The wisdom of great nations, now no more,

T

Though laden, not encumbered with her spoil,
Laborious, yet unconscious of her toil,
When copiously supplied then most enlarged,
Still to be fed, and not to be surcharged.
For her, the fancy roving unconfined,
The present muse of every pensive mind,
Works magic wonders, adds a brighter hue
To nature's scenes, than nature ever knew;
At her command, winds rise and waters roar,
Again she lays them slumbering on the shore;
With flower and fruit the wilderness supplies,
Or bids the rocks in ruder pomp arise.
For her, the judgment, umpire in the strife,
That grace and nature have to wage through life,
Quick-sighted arbiter of good and ill,
Appointed sage preceptor to the will,
Condemns, approves, and with a faithful voice
Guides the decision of a doubtful choice.

Why did the fiat of a God give birth
To yon fair sun and his attendant earth.
And when descending he resigns the skies,
Why takes the gentler moon her turn to rise,
Whom ocean feels through all his countless waves,
And owns her power on every shore he laves?
Why do the seasons still enrich the year,
Fruitful and young as in their first career?
Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees,
Rocked in the cradle of the western breeze;
Summer in haste the thriving charge receives
Beneath the shade of her expanded leaves,
Till autumn's fiercer heats and plenteous dews
Dye them at last in all their glowing hues ;—
'Twere wild profusion all, and bootless waste,
Power misemployed, munificence misplaced,
Had not its author dignified the plan,
And crowned it with a majesty of man.
Thus formed, thus placed, intelligent, and taught,
Look where he will, the wonders God has wrought,
The wildest scorner of his maker's laws
Finds in a sober moment time to pause,
To press the important question on his heart,
"Why formed at all, and wherefors as thou art?"
If man be what he seems, this hour a slave,
The next mere dust and ashes in the grave,
Endued with reason only to descry
His crimes and follies with an aching eye,
With passions, just that he may prove with pain
The force he spends against their fury, vain;
And if soon after having burnt by turns
With every lust with which frail nature bums,
His being end where death dissolves the bond,
The tomb take all, and all be blank beyond,

« ForrigeFortsett »